ALLOW COUPONS FOR DRUGS

By Bob Katzen

The House and Senate approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill extending until 2020 the current law, due to expire in 2019, that allows consumers to use coupons to get discounts and rebates when purchasing prescription drugs. In 2012, Massachusetts was the last state to lift a ban on the use of prescription coupons. The measure also requires the state to analyze and issue a report by June 1, 2019 on the effect of these discounts and rebates, on pharmaceutical spending and health care costs in Massachusetts.

In 2012, Massachusetts was the last state to lift a ban on the use of prescription coupons. The ban was lifted for only two years to see how it worked and has been lifted for another two years several times. The ban originally was designed to was prevent drug companies from trying to induce customers into buying their drugs. Supporters of lifting the ban say that the unintended consequence of the ban was that it resulted in people being prohibited from saving money on prescriptions. They say the lifting of the ban helps lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and others who otherwise might not be able to afford them.

Opponents argue the use of coupons drives up health care costs by luring consumers and encouraging them to request high-priced brand name medication.

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